Pre-pregnancy Check-up

Have you been wishing to have a baby?

Do you feel that now is the right time to become pregnant?

If you have been planning to conceive, it is important to know that the best way to ensure a healthy and safe conception and delivery is to have a thorough, all-inclusive pre-pregnancy check-up

Do you want to know everything about pre-pregnancy check-up before making an appointment with your ob-gyn?

In the following sections, we will tackle each of the possible factors that may affect your pregnancy journey by answering frequently asked questions from patients and give you a heads-up of what to expect during your pre-pregnancy check-up.

Why is pre-pregnancy check-up important?

There are many factors to consider that could affect a woman’s pregnancy journey.

From early conception to baby’s proper development inside the womb up to delivery, each of these stages is crucial for the safety and health of both the mother and the child.

That’s why, even if you are not pregnant yet, it is vital to identify the possible factors that could affect your pregnancy by having a pre-pregnancy check-up or what some doctors refer as “preconception care”.

Recognizing these factors early on will help increase the chance of having a safe, smooth and worry-free pregnancy and childbirth.

In short, pre-pregnancy check-up is important because during this time, your doctor can perform a series of examinations to ensure that you are in your healthiest self (both physically and emotionally) before taking the next big step to have a baby on board.

What should I expect during my pre-pregnancy check-up?

Through pre-pregnancy check-up, your doctor will able to detect potential risks and address any medical concerns you may have before you conceive.

During pre-pregnancy check-ups, expect your doctor to ask you regarding your:

  • Age and child-bearing capacity
  • Lifestyle, diet and nutrition
  • Medical and family history
  • Medications and allergies
  • Past pregnancies
  • Pre-existing gynecological conditions
  • Emotional capacity to bear a child
  • Home and work environments

Who should have a pre-pregnancy check-up?

Basically, any woman in the right age can set a schedule for a pre-pregnancy check-up. Usually, during the check-up, the medical practitioner will ask about your partner’s and your age, so he can assess the possible risks associated with your age.

Women who wish to conceive in their older years may need to consider a lot of factors, therefore, pre-pregnancy check-up is highly recommended.

What are the different factors that may affect my pregnancy, childbirth and my baby’s health?

  1. Your Diet and Nutritional Needs

There is no denying that the human body needs a constant supply of nutrients and minerals to support our everyday activities and to repair damaged tissues.

Our diet plays a significant role in determining our over-all health. As what an old saying says, we are what we eat—yes, we can get energy from supplements and vitamins, but our body’s well-being is primarily determined by the food we eat.

To carry a child in your womb means that the nutrients that the fetus will need will come from you. The state of your health and diet will be a great factor to ensure the proper nutrition the baby will receive.

During pre-pregnancy check-up, your doctor will discuss with you on the proper diet and nutritional needs to keep you and your future baby healthy and well-nourished.

To make sure you maintain a healthy diet, your doctor can help you make healthy food selections as well as recommend food-planning and supplements guide you can follow throughout the pregnancy period.

The importance of pre-pregnancy check-up comes into play when proper vitamins and supplements to take are involved.

The following vitamins and supplements are usually taken by women before and during pregnancy:

  • Prenatal vitamin supplements (contains all the daily vitamins and minerals you need)
  • Folic acid supplements (helps prevent neural tube defects)
  • Iron (aids in production of blood required to supply oxygen to the baby in the womb)
  1. Your Weight

Being overweight may lead to several problems which may affect your pregnancy and childbirth while obesity can even be associated with potential complications such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • preeclampsia
  • premature birth
  • gestational diabetes

 

Being underweight, on the other hand,  is also not good for pregnancy as it may increase the risks of preterm birth and low-birth weight baby that will greatly affect the over-all (physical, mental and behavioral) health of the child and may be carried up until adulthood.

During pre-pregnancy check-up, your doctor may give advice on the best ways to lose or improve your weight which includes exercise routines and diet plans.

  1. Your Lifestyle

Keeping a healthy lifestyle is key to ensure your baby’s well-being.

Certain lifestyles can be harmful to the developing fetus in the womb especially during the early stages of pregnancy. Habits that can be very detrimental to the baby’s health include

  • smoking
  • alcohol consumption
  • use of illegal drugs
  • excessive caffeine intake

It is important to inform your doctor about the lifestyle you have so he/she can help you stop these unhealthy habits to prevent complications during pregnancy and lower the risk of birth defects.

  1. Your Medical History

You should inform your doctor if you are currently having or have any of the following in the past:

  • chronic conditions (eg hypertension, diabetes)
  • serious medical problems
  • mental health issues
  • recent or past exposure to infectious diseases
  • previous surgery or hospitalisation

As any medical problems may affect your pregnancy and baby’s health, they  should be addressed (and treated if possible) before conception and should be monitored during pregnancy.

With proper care and precautions, getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy and successful delivery is possible even when experiencing chronic medical conditions.

  1. Your Family History

Before going to your doctor for pre-pregnancy check-up, make a list of the different medical issues that exists in your family. These medical conditions may include

  • simple allergies
  • chronic diseases eg diabetes
  • serious conditions such as cancer

This medical list will be very helpful for you and your doctor to uncover any risks that will affect your pregnancy and possible medical conditions that can be passed on to your child.

Of course, as much as your family history is important, your partner’s family history will also matter, so better make the list together.

  1. Your Past Pregnancies and Reproductive History

If you have been pregnant before, do you still need to have pre-pregnancy check-up before trying for a new child?

Yes, because every pregnancy is unique.

Even if you have been pregnant before, it is always better to have yourself checked before trying for a new baby.

To make a proper assessment, your doctor may ask you details about your previous pregnancy such as:

  • the type of delivery you had (vaginal, assisted vaginal or C-section)
  • the complications you may have encountered before, during and after delivery
  • the postpartum effects on your mental (i.e., depression) and physical (i.e., hemorrhage) health

It is also important to let your doctor know if you have any history of the following so he can take the necessary measures to lower the risk of complications during your pregnancy:

  • miscarriages
  • stillbirths
  • premature births

In addition, reproductive information such as menstrual history, menstrual cycles, the type of birth control being used, and fertility issues should be discussed with your doctor to help you plan and prepare for the best time to try to conceive.

  1. Current Medications You Are Taking.

Inform your doctor about any prescription, over-the-counter medications or even herbal medicines and supplements you are currently taking or have recently taken.

Some medications may cause birth defects and complications, so it is better to prevent them early on.

Also, it can be very helpful if you can provide your vaccination history to your doctor.

Before you try to conceive, it is advisable that you have completed your vaccinations for

  • rubella
  • chickenpox
  • measles and other required immunizations.

If you have not completed your vaccinations, your doctor may require you to get immunized and may delay the conception.

  1. Your  Home and Work Environments

If you are planning to conceive, consider the type of environment you have at home and at your workplace.

There are certain chemicals and toxic substances (and even radiation) that can be very harmful to the developing fetus.

Make sure you are well-protected and unexposed to these harmful chemicals.

What Tests and Screenings Should I Expect During My Pre-Pregnancy Check-up?

  1. General preconception tests and screenings

During your pre-pregnancy checkup, your doctor may perform a number of specific preconception tests and screenings such as:

  • Pap smear
  • Blood tests
  • Blood pressure reading
  • Physical exams for pelvic, breast, and abdomen and other internal organs
  • Urinalysis to screen for urinary tract infection (UTI) and other kidney problems
  • Screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Fertility Tests (especially for women over 35 years old)
  1. Specific screenings for serious gynecological conditions

With these tests, if your doctor develops suspicion of pre-existing gynecological conditions that may cause serious problems that may cause infertility or difficulty in conceiving, further screenings may be required.

These serious gynecological conditions may include:

  • uterine fibroids
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • ovarian cysts or benign tumours
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  1. Mental Health Assessment

Determining your overall health is the primary objective of pre-pregnancy check-up and that also includes your mental and emotional capacity to bear a child.

During the check-up, your doctor may require additional screenings for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, eating and mood disorders for a more holistic assessment.

  1. Genetic screening

Your ob-gyn may recommend that you consult with a  genetic counsellor and undergo carrier screening for inherited genetic disorders. This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a healthy baby.

Through genetic screening and counselling, you and your partner can predict and understand the probabilities of having a child with a birth defect.

  1. Trip to the dentist

Gum diseases are usually associated with pregnancy complications and also tend to worsen as pregnancy progresses.

This is why, if you have gum disease or teeth problems that need to be treated, your ob-gyn will most likely recommend that you seek dental care before conception to help reduce the risk of complications.

What additional pointers should I consider  before committing to a pre-pregnancy check-up?

Your Doctor’s Role.
There are many things you can’t control during your pregnancy, and sometimes, things don’t go as planned. To ensure that you and your baby stay as healthy as possible, choose a reliable doctor that you can completely trust.

Your Partner’s Role.
Pregnancy is a major decision and requires a lot of care. That is why, emotional support and encouragement from your partner can be very helpful in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

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